I don’t often take too deep of a dive into the nitty gritty of how I eat, and because I eat very similarly to what I share on the blog, people usually assume I’m vegetarian—which I’m not. Though I eat very little meat, I’ve embraced the title of omnivore. Carnivorous tendencies don’t come naturally to me, and I’m not much interested in forcing any diet on anyone, least of all myself. Which is why I get to do fun things like eat butter-slathered aged cheddar grilled cheese sandwiches while sipping on the most delicious Naked Cold Pressed Juice. I like my food to be fun. But it wasn’t always like this.
But when my mom got sick, everything changed. I moved home (heartbroken on two counts, romantically and in the wake of her late-stage cancer diagnosis) and began caring for her. A few months in, her oncological nutritionist advised that she eat chicken broth. For the first time in my life, I bought a chicken and learned how to make stock. That day, my mom called me into her room. She looked up at me timidly and said, “I’m so sorry to make you cook meat.” She knew I’d seen countless PETA videos and exposés on factory farming, and she felt genuine guilt for the position she’d put me in.
I, on the other hand, was mortified. My mother, the woman who gave birth to me, who had given her entire life to the cause of allowing me to live in a good world, felt bad for asking me to make her chicken broth as she was dying. In that moment, my rigid perspective on food and lifestyle cracked wide open. I would have killed an animal for her then, if it might have helped her get better. And knowing this, I realized I could no longer espouse the same beliefs I had for the past few years. I stepped down from my soapbox. I realized that people have different dietary needs, and that that was ok. That the best I could do for the planet, for the animals, was to eat in a way that honored my own body’s demands.
In the wake of this realization, and her death, I discovered there were many foods I was actually afraid to eat. I’d never had bacon, or a hamburger, or a hot dog, or even a piece of pepperoni for that matter. I was an alien in the world of what most people consider “normal” food. As I began to eat yogurt and eggs again, I knew that unless I was sourcing the dairy I ate directly from small, local farms, I was likely contributing to the meat industry—dairy cows are sold for hamburger meat, across the industry. Knowing this, I decided to take an intuitive approach to eating. I knew I’d never be a big meat eater, but I also wanted to eliminate the shame around omnivorous eating that I saw happening all around me.
Now, there are many days a week where I don’t eat any animal products at all, and I only eat meat a few times a month, if that. Y’all know me—you know how I like my cold pressed juice and tofu and spirulina. My heart bleeds vegetables. But it also bleeds the wish that people abandon the kind of orthorexic thinking that led to my mom being afraid to ask me to make her chicken broth.
Which brings me back to these absolutely gorgeous new Naked Cold Pressed Juices (currently available on the west coast of the US), and this gussied up grilled cheese. Though every single one of these blends is completely magical (I guzzled them all faster than I’d like to admit), I quickly developed a crush on the Lively Carrot—an insanely delish blend of carrot, citrus, vanilla bean, turmeric, and cucumber. YUP. It’s just that good. Each blend is cold pressed right into the bottle, and they’re all certified non-GMO. I mean. Swoon.
And this grilled cheese—aged sharp cheddar, salted butter, tomato coriander jam, and arugula all cozied up between a pressed, grilled baguette? It’s heaven. Though I wish I could stake claim to the flavor combo, it belongs purely to the brilliant Jessica Koslow of SQIRL fame. This grilled cheese changed my life the first time I had it, and inspired me to try my own hand at making tomato jam. This coriander infused version is easy and incredibly delicious—and literally the only thing you’ll want to eat with your grilled cheese from this day forward.
This post is sponsored by Naked Juice. Thanks for supporting the businesses that keep Kale & Caramel thriving! All opinions are my own.
TOMATO JAM, ARUGULA & SHARP CHEDDAR GRILLED CHEESE.
makes about 6 cups (make half a batch if you don’t want a lot extra)
- 6 pounds tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds whole
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ cup white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons salt plus more to taste
- ¼-½ sourdough baguette
- 1 tablespoon salted butter softened and divided
- 3-4 ounces aged sharp cheddar cheese thinly sliced
- ½ cup tomato coriander jam
- 1 cup loosely packed baby arugula
Make the tomato coriander jam.
Wash your jam jars, lids, and bands in hot, soapy water and let dry. Wash and dry tomatoes. Destem, core and roughly chop tomatoes. Place in nonreactive saucepan with all ingredients except salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to keep mixture at a simmer, and add salt. Simmer for 1 to 1 ½ hours or until jam thickens, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
Use a funnel or spoon to transfer jam to clean jars and seal. Follow proper water canning methods to preserve, or let cool completely and keep in fridge for up to six weeks.
Make the grilled cheese sandwiches.
Slice section of baguette into desired sizes for two sandwiches, and then slice each section in half, lengthwise. Use ½ tablespoon to butter inside and outside the baguette. Place other ½ tablespoon butter in a cast iron skillet. Optional: Keep another cast iron skillet nearby to press your grilled cheese sandwich later on.
Melt ½ tablespoon butter in cast iron skillet over low flame. Spread 1 spoonful of tomato jam on the bottom half of each baguette section. Top with sliced cheddar. Add sliced cheddar to the other, buttered half. Place all four slices of baguette, cheese side up, on the cast iron skillet. Cover with lid and let cook about 8-11 minutes, checking occasionally to ensure nothing is getting too toasty.
At this point, cheese should be beginning to melt. If using second cast iron skillet as a press, begin to heat it on a second burner over low heat. While it warms, spread top halves of baguette with a spoonful of tomato jam each, and add a light handful of arugula to the bottom half of each sandwich. Place top half of baguette on bottom half. Remove second cast iron skillet from second burner, turn off both burners, and place second skillet down directly on top of the assembled baguette sandwiches. Let rest and cook about 1 minute, until cheese is melty and tops and bottoms of baguettes are perfectly toasty.
Remove from heat and eat immediately, preferably with some delicious Naked Pressed.